Liberalism and Multiculturalism: A Philosophical Dilemma
Crites, Joshua Seth
Traditionally, liberalism has been committed to the rights and freedoms of individuals. Recently, that idea has been challenged by the multiculturalist notion that, in some instances, group-based claims must be addressed to fully accommodate the freedom of individuals. This project addresses directly the question of whether liberals can countenance group-based claims and, if they can, whether they should. To this end, I examine four approaches to the question of whether liberals can be multiculturalists. These responses are the best examples of how liberals respond to group-based claims, spanning from a position that argues that liberalism entails multiculturalism to an outright dismissal of any multiculturalist accommodation of group-based claims. I argue that, in the end, there are really only two viable positions: either the liberal must reject multiculturalism in order to retain basic liberal principles or liberalism must be revised in order to address those aspects of multiculturalism which are legitimate. Neither option is fully satisfactory. I conclude that deciding which option is preferable depends on what costs the liberal is willing to bear.